Laddie, Darling. You’re Home!

17 March 2022

It doesn’t get much better than this – and if you are wondering about Osprey behaviour, Laddie or LM12 at the Loch of the Lowes nest in Scotland, could teach some of the younger males a thing or two.

Laddie’s mate, Blue NC0 landed on the nest first on the 17th. She kept looking around and then she laid down in the nest bowl looking to her left. She ‘knew’ he was coming! Laddie arrives at 13:43. Both of the Loch of the Lowes ospreys are home safely from their winter migration.

What does Laddie do? He gets busy getting his gal a fish. Then he starts cleaning up the nest and the nest bowl. Yeah, Laddie. What a great mate you are for Blue NC0!

Duck and cover just in case there is a crash landing. Here comes Laddie!

How excited can an Osprey be? They have just flown from Africa, albeit they stopped along the way but still, here they are, immediately getting down to the business of readying for the 2023 breeding season. I sure wasn’t moving furniture around after my short holiday!

The fish delivery came at 15:12. Laddie had only been home an hour and a half and a fish gift for Blue NC0. That is the way to win the heart of your mate and reassure them you are still up to providing for her and the kids.

Laddie testing out the nest cup.

Want to watch Laddie LM12 and Blue NC0? Here is the link to their camera!

Thank you for joining me for this brief update on the LOTL Osprey nest. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the Friends of Loch of the Lowes and the Scottish Wildlife Trust for their streaming cam and Geemeff alerting me to the fish delivery!

Loch Arkaig’s LW5 in France

25 November 2022

Sometimes I get the most delightful mail and today word has arrived from France of the sighting of Loch Arkaig’s LW5. Thank you to Bernard Lagadec who took the time to write and send the coordinates! Much appreciated by all of us as this nest is so dear to our hearts.

Bernard observed Willow LW5 from 11 to 14 09 2022. Here is the place and the coordinates: COMBRIT FINISTERE IN FRANCE
L 47°053’17” L 4°09″29″

Combrit (Breton: Kombrid) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.

Just look at what might have been Willow’s route. If she did do as Google Maps suggests, she flew almost straight south taking a turn and going over to the southwest coast of England and then crossed the water. Of course, I am only speculating on this route. What we know is that Willow left Loch Arkaig on 28 August and as you can see, she wasted no time getting to France. Just a fortnight. Oh, I wonder where she is now.

I had goosebumps running up and down my arms. LW5 is Willow with LW6 being Sarafina who stayed on the nest forever so long.

Here are the pair after being ringed with Mum Dorcha and Dad Louis.

Here is Willow fledging.

Here is Willow taking her second flight.

And this is the last sighting of Willow at Loch Arkaig before she begins her migration.

Thank you so much Bernard Lagadec for sending this wonderful news to all of us. It is so appreciated.

Thank you also to the Friends of Loch Arkaig, the Woodland Trust, and the People’s Post Code Lottery for the streaming cam videos of the events in Willow’s life.

Good Morning Ospreyland

I have a friend who lives in the Northeastern United States. She has a beautiful garden and loves her songbirds. She also adores Big Red, Arthur, and their chicks. Wicky and I often get really down in the dumps over the direction that environmental policies are going. Then we see something and begin to believe that there is hope that all this heat, drought, flooding, birds falling from the sky, etc will pass. We need one another – for on the day I am down, she is up and vice versa!

Today Wicky sent me a quote from Jane Goodall that I would like to share with you. I am including the interview in the New York Times that she sent as well. I hope you can open it.

“Traveling the world I’d see so many projects of restoration, people tackling what seemed impossible and not giving up.”

I am always impressed with how New Zealand develops positive policies for their wildlife. Another area that is doing that is Scotland. Here is a short early morning BBC programme on the restoring of the landscape at the Cairngorms National Park. I am including some images of the park for you so that you get a glimpse of the type of landscape being restored.

“Cairngorms” by wwarby is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Cairngorms” by chuckrock123 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Of course, my interest is the Ospreys and this is the home to the Loch Garten Ospreys. It was the first place that the Ospreys returned to in the UK in the 1950s. It was the home of the Lady of the Loch, that female, often called the Norwegian by Tiger Mozone whose DNA, according to Tiger, is in every UK Osprey except for CJ7. Lady was the foundation stone.

The image below is of that historic Osprey nest that is still used.

Sadly this year there were no Ospreys breeding at the nest. I might be remembering this wrong but it seems to me that two birds arrived at the nest and people in a canoe or kayak got too close trying to take photographs and the birds left not to return. (I hope that I am not remembering another nest – I could be so feel free to correct me, please!). Fingers crossed for next year! Here are some images of the loch. It is freshwater and is full of trout. We know that Ospreys love their trout. Dylan flew 13 km to get trout for the Clywedog Nest with Seren and Only Bob a week or so ago.

What an incredible sunset.

“Sunset at Loch Garten” by chuckrock123 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
“Loch Garten” by Cairngorms National Park is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This is that short programme with Ade Adepitan, MBE on the restoration of the natural environment in the Cairngorms:

It is now approaching 11pm on the Canadian Prairies. The Osprey nests in the United Kingdom are just waking up.

Good Morning Tiny Little! I wonder if you dreamed about flying?

Totally serene image of Loch of the Lowes. No one sleeping on the nest. On occasion NC0 or one of the fledglings will appear on the nest but for the most part the camera remains fantastic because sometimes you can see the Ospreys fishing in the loch.

Aila did not return from her migration. Louis waited and waited refurbishing their nest. When he could wait no longer he paired with a new female. They raised two chicks on another nest off camera. The new Mrs Louis is Dorcha. When the two chicks were ringed on 15 July it was believed that they were 4-5 weeks old and are both are believed to be male.

Beautiful Manton Bay Nest of Blue 33 and Maya. The camera will be shut off soon and we will have to wait til the Ospreys return in March. Normally Blue 33 and Maya arrive within an hour of one another. Just think – they travel 4000 miles and arrive in that close of time. It is unclear if they winter together in the same place.

The beautiful morning turned into a day of defending their nest for Blue 33 and Maya. Poor birds.

What a beautiful morning – just look at that pink sky and the green of the landscape – at the Dyfi Nest of Idris and Telyn. I can’t see a fledgling but it sounds like one of them is scratching on the microphone of the camera!

The cameras have not come on at the nest of Dylan and Seren but, wow. I found an 11 minute video shot by a photographer of Llyn Clywedog. We can get a really good look at the loch where their nest is located. It is like you are going for a walk around the water. Very restful.

It is now a sunny afternoon at Llyn Clywedog and no one is home! It is quite understandable why the owners of these streaming cams will be turning them off in the future!

Tiny Little made a short flight from one side of the nest to the other. She spends a lot of time looking down over the edge. Did someone tell me that birds are afraid of heights? Yes, they did. It was someone at the Cornell Bird Lab years ago. It is one of the reasons the little ones don’t often fall off the edge of the ledge nests.

Tiny has spent a lot of time sitting on the edge of the nest looking down.

It’s tea time at the Foulshaw Moss Nest. 463 has joined Tiny Little who is food begging. His crop is pretty flat. Good luck Tiny!

At 16:32 Dylan flew in with a live fish which 464 promptly mantled. Let’s hope mom is around to feed some of that fish to Tiny Little!

White YW is out of there as 462 flies in for the fish. This is going to get interesting. It is still alive! Good lessons.

Oh, we had a little rain and a thunderstorm during the night. It is still really cloudy and, despite the 27 degree heat, one can imagine it is cooler!

Thank you so much for joining me. It seems that everything is going along as it should with the UK Ospreys – save for our little darling Tiny Little who needs some confidence. It will come. They are all individuals. Have a wonderful start to your week. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Woodland Trust, LRWT, Rutland Water and the Manton Bay Osprey Nest, Carnyx Wild and Llyn Clywedog Osprey Nest, the Dyfi Osprey Project, and Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn. A big shout out to Wicky for sending me the Jane Goodall interview!

Scotland, Day 6 Juteopolis

While the plan had been to go castle hopping today, the weather took a wee bit of a turn, and it was raining snow.  Cold to the bone-chilling cold.  Lucy, Kiki, and I went museum hopping in Dundee instead.  Three museums:  The Verdant Jute Museum, the MacManus Museum, and the new V & A Design Museum.

The jute industry was the heart of the city of Dundee.  In the late 19th century, over 54,000 people were employed in the industry.  The featured image shows a map of the trade in jute.  Dundee was known as Juteopolis.  In 1901 it was at the very height of its power and was a bustling international city with people from Russia, India, the United States, Germany, and Poland.  Merchants travelled back and forth between Dundee and the Indian subcontinent.

The raw material was imported from Calcutta and processed in Dundee.  It was the women and young children that were used in the mills, and it was the women in charge of the pay packets.  In the 1860s, the jute barons of Dundee had set up jute mills on the Indian subcontinent because labour was so cheap.  By 1901, the processing of jute was in decline in Dundee and in 1947 at India’s independence, no more jute was shipped to Scotland.  A few years later, in 1912, the whaling industry died.  So many whales had been killed that the industry was no longer profitable.  I was surprised to learn that it was whale oil that made the jute fibres so soft, like cashmere.  In 1914, the Scots raised their own local battalion, the 4th Black Watch and went off to fight for British imperialism.  It was the first time that many of the men in Dundee had work.

In 1863 the average life expectancy of someone living in the country around Glamis was 60 years.  It was 33 years in Dundee.  The infant mortality rates in Dundee had one in every three children dying before their first birthday.  Infant suffocation was five times greater in Dundee than in Glasgow in the 1880s.  The people in Dundee were either impoverished workers or jute barons with a middle class that was pushing for religious and drink reforms.  The Temperance Union was growing.  But the reality of life was so bleak that most turned to drink.  Babies and young children were given ‘bread meat’ which was bread soaked in a cup of water with a wee bit of milk added and a little sugar.  As a consequence, people were malnourished and did not grow.  Notice the size of the children playing with the hydrant.  The doll with its porcelain face was imported and would have been owned by the children of the wealthy jute barons of the city.

IMG_2703 2IMG_2693IMG_2691

The museum is staffed by volunteers who give the most amazing tours.  They talk about the life of the workers in the mill and the clerks in the office.  The clerks had full-time work and were paid regularly although they did not make much more than those on the floor.  The mill workers were paid by the piece of work they completed that day.  Others gave tours on the different kinds of jute, the history of the mills in Dundee, and the social impact of working at the mill and the class differences in the city.  The entrance fee is 11 GBP and includes a visit to the Discovery.  If you ask they will give you a card that is good for visits to the museum for an entire year.  The cafe was very reasonable, much more so than any of the other we visited and the sandwiches and soup were quite good.  I highly recommend a trip to this museum, children included, if you come to Dundee. Below are some pictures of the various areas of the museum.

The jute dress is what the women working in the mills would wear pre-wedding.  I can’t possibly imagine how scratchy it must have been.


This is what the men would put on their backs so that they could carry the big bales of jute.  If you look closely at the bottom of the image, you will see a man with one of these on his back.


The mills of Dundee provided sails for the ships, tents for the army, flour sacks, covers for the wagons heading West in the United States, sacks and bags for all manner of things, including linoleum.


This is an image of where the clerks would work.  They were required to work standing up all day.  Notice the female secretary on the left is seated at her desk!



One of the newer looms that allowed for weaving to take place.



Our guide did not tell us the name of this piece of equipment for the looms. Initially, the women were in charge of two looms.  They were paid for piece work which meant if they had to go to the toilet they had to stop their looms.  The looms were also connected to clocks to check for efficiency.  This device allowed the looms to continue working when the operator had to leave for a few minutes.  When the owners discovered this, they put the women in charge of SIX looms!  Dundee eventually comes one of the most organised labour cities in England.  In fact, Winston Churchill was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party and turned Tory.  He was subsequently voted out and had to run elsewhere.IMG_2667

Tomorrow I will take you on a tour of the MacManus Museum.

Tip for those travelling to Scotland.  May and June are the best times to come.  It is too cold in March and is nice and warm by May.  After the end of June, the bugs are so bad that they can almost drive one mad.  Thanks, Lizzie for that insight.  Also, if you go out into the country, away from the tourist spots, your trip will be much more economical.

Hospitalfield, Day 3

Each of us, at breakfast, seemed to have settled in.  Everyone has adjusted to keeping warm and many of us threw off covers during the night.  The wind off the North Sea subsided and we woke to glorious blue skies.  Today, was an opportunity to stop thinking about being creative and to enjoy a tour of the library and the house with Alasdair Sutherland.  I learned so much that it was impossible to keep track of everything but today, I will begin writing about the ‘true’ history of Hospitalfield and not that contained in many accounts.  Alasdair gave us insight into the reasons for the carvings, the history of the pictures in the collection as they related to the Fraser family, and showed us some amazing books including the account books of the woodcarver whose work decorates the house.  To not overwhelm you, this will be done in instalments!  The house is the history of the Parrot family from Hawkesbury Hill in Coventry and the Fraser family.

The original building was called Hospitalfield but it was because it was a place to receive pilgrims arriving to go to St John the Baptist Abbey. — ‘hospitality’  A statue on the front of the house is original to the medieval era.  It was only later a place for those ill with leprosy and the plague.


Patrick Allan’s family did not really want him to be an artist.  Not much different today, parents afraid their children wanting to be artists will be impoverished all of their lives.  His family did apprentice him with his grandfather who was a very skilled draftsman.  He then goes to art school in Edinburgh where he specialises in portraits.  From there he went to Rome where he made a very successful career selling drawings and pictures to people on the Grand Tour.  It is in Rome that he will meet some other painters and sculptors who will become his lifelong friends and will supply work for the rooms here at Hospitalfield.  In 1841, he set up a successful portrait business in London and traveled back and forth to Paris.  Patrick Allan becomes one of the founders of a group of artists, The Clique, in the late 1830s.  The group was known for their rejection of academic art and embracing genre scenes.  They also had a great disdain for the Pre-Raphalite Brotherhood, more of that later this week!

In 1842, Patrick Allan was approached by Robert Cadell, an Edinburgh publisher, who wants him to produce illustrations for Walter Scott’s Antiquity, which I mentioned the last post.  Patrick Allan did create the work but, according to our guide, not that enthusiastically.   Our guide today also said that there is no shred of evidence that Scott’s novel was based on people and places in Arbrough or that Hospitalfield was Monkbarns.  It is a myth that has been perpetuated (even by me yesterday).  While he is in Arbroath working on this series, he meets a widow, Elizabeth, whom he married in 1843.  Elizabeth will inherit all of the Hawkesbury estates in 1883.  Below are three large oil portraits painted by Patrick Allan-Fraser on the left, Elizabeth, his wife, on the right, and her mother in the middle.  The bottom picture is an image of Elizabeth holding her favourite cat painted by Patrick.




I would like to draw your attention to the material on the wall behind the portrait of Elizabeth.  It is the most beautiful 17th-century Dutch embossed leather and was all the rage when the couple were renovating the house.  The room that these images are in was the original entrance hall of the James Fraser House.  One other curiosity about this room is the installation of gasoliers, gas lighting.  It was trendy and a status symbol, just like the imported leather wall panels.  They, however, did a lot of damage to the ceilings and objects in various rooms within the house with the fumes.  This was compounded by the soot from the candles and the coal that was used.


The fireplace was shown at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations of 1851 at Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 15 October 1851.  The models of all of the various items that could be purchased could also be bought.  That is how the fireplace wound up in Hospitalfield.


The beautiful wood carving through the original Hall and then the dining room was done by a local carver, James Hutchinson.   His work can be seen throughout the house including the framing of the triple portraits.  Below is a detail.


The Drawing Room features two 17th century tapestries that Patrick acquired in Bruges.  The Room was decorated in 1870 when cedar was used to cover all of the walls to protect the fabrics from moths.  The room is the earliest example of the Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement.  The intent, through the subjects of the tapestries, was to link the inside of the house with the outside environment.  The ceiling has 197 different plant carvings found on the property.  It was done by a local carver, David Maver, who was paid seven pence an hour.  Hospitalfield has the complete book of his accounts.  Some of the ceiling carvings took up to one hundred hours.  Maver later moved to New York where he made a name for himself carving for the grand houses along the Eastern seaboard.


Other images of the tapestries in the Drawing Room.  Because of their age, the light from the windows is curtained off.  The brilliance of living a room with cedar to protect artworks at that time was quite impressive. Other cabinets within the house are made of solid cedar and lined with camphorwood to safeguard the beautiful clothes of the women.

Tomorrow I will give you a tour of three more rooms in this great house.

The winds are still down, and the sun is shining brightly in Arbroath.  Any artist seriously looking for a place to do a residency should seriously consider Hospitalfield.  They have a small dedicated staff.  The costs are reasonable and if you take public transportation – and not rent a car – you will really only have to bring your supplies.  For some of the writers this March, that has meant only pens and paper!


Arrived at Arbroath and Hospitalfield House

From my window in one of the most historic bedrooms at Hospitalfield, I can see the North Sea.  To get there, one only has to walk through the garden, full of blooming daffodils and crocus.


The photographs provided by Hospitalfield show the amazing exterior of this medieval building, but it is the interior spaces that give you that ‘wow, oh my goodness’ moment.  Built in the 13th century, the warren of rooms was home to the people who had leprosy and the plaque….hence, the name Hospitalfield.  Right now, it is both home and inspiration to the nine or ten of us who are here as interdisciplinary artists from various places including Brooklyn, London, Glasgow, Holland, and Newcastle, Great creative people.

Cicely Farrer wrote to us and told us that it is both cold outside and cold inside this old stone building,.  She is right.  It is cold to the bones which, in some way, has a connection with the SHEEP that are everywhere and the wool industry.  Did I forget my wool jumper from Ireland just so I could get a new one from here?  Did I really?!  But, for those who are thinking of travelling to Scotland, the first word that comes to mind is SHEEP.  There are more sheep in Scotland than there are people.  Did you know that?  And some of those sheep are even orange!


This is the first residency that I have been on in more than 30 years.  It feels like a first time because everything is that much more different.  There is a fantastic chef here named Simon who cooked us pilaf, a chicken curry, slaw with Nigella seeds, and his homemade flatbread.  This was followed by a chocolate brownie with real whipped cream and a raspberry coulis.  It is nice to be taken care of and not having to think about anything – a mantra that seems to be on everyone’s mind.

So this is the four posters historic bedroom at Hospitalfield that is mine for two weeks.


Some of you might recall that I was given a -37 degree C sleeping bag.  It will definitely come in handy tonight!  It makes me appreciate all of those big two-story frame farmhouses in Manitoba and all their small rooms and doors. Apparently to keep the warm in.

Here are some other views of the inside hallways.  The wood is beautiful.  Some of the private rooms have coffered wood ceilings and carved wooden walls.  I fear that they would crack in the dry cold of Manitoba,


Scotland is on many of your bucket lists.  It is a gorgeous country with vast open spaces.  That is one of the single reasons that Scotland is a favoured tourist destination for the Chinese.  The tops of the Highland hills have snow on them today. March is chilly.  The great houses open in April.  You should come after April 1 if you can.

And if you do come, you need to start planning in advance and check out all of your options.  From Canada, for example, I found out that you can fly from Halifax to Glasgow.  Other places even land in Dundee, but the majority of travellers I am told begin their journey in London.  It is easy to get to Scotland from London King’s Cross; it takes about five hours, and if you book at least 5 to 6 weeks in advance with NLER you can get a much-discounted ticket.  Most everyone I know automatically thinks about renting a car.  If you absolutely need to, plan, so you only need to for a short period.  It isn’t the cost of the daily car fee that is so expensive.  It is the cost of insurance.  The price per day of full coverage with Europcar is 37 GBP.  At the moment it is 1 GBP to 2 CDN.  While the daily rental might seem insignificant, insurance can add up.  Figure it out before you travel.

If you decide to go ahead and rent a car then make the most of it!  This means not travelling on the motorways – at least as much as you can,  Wandering off to find small villages with quaint shops and local food is part of the fun.  And do check out the local fare.  To give you an idea of what fast food costs in Scotland and an excellent reason to stay away from it, I can tell you that a Burger King Jr Whopper meal is 7.14 GBP or $14.28 CDN.  Thank goodness the chef at Hospitalfield House is so amazing.

Cosmic Joke?

I was so looking forward to getting out of snowy Winnipeg that I couldn’t think of anything but green grass, lochs, dramatic hills, daffodils, and Scottish shortbread.  The weather reports were for ‘rain, rain, and rain’.  That chill to the bone cold is something that we got used to I was a student at the University of Leicester.  And speaking of Leicester, I was going to get to connect with one of my friends from that era, Hazel, from the Shetland Islands now working for Scottish Museums.  Our original plan was to walk through the Old Town part of the city with its cobblestones, public statuary, and beautiful stone buildings.  The icy wind and rain meant that we shifted from one sitting spot to another during the course of the morning.  Our first stop was for tea and scones (OK, Hazel had an elephant-shaped piece of shortbread).

The Elephant House is located in the old part of the city.  It is easy to find and any local can give you directions because this lovely boutique cafe claims to be one of the cafes where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter.


The Elephant Cafe is one of a few coffee and tea shops that Rowling visited with her baby daughter so that she could write.


Rowling is a true rags to riches individual.  As a single mom struggling on welfare in Edinburgh, she had, of course, no idea that two decades later people would travel to Edinburgh to visit the sites of her stories.  Rowling’s home was full of books and from a very young age, she wanted to be a writer.  Her website says that she wrote her first book at the age of six called ‘Rabbit’ while she finished her first novel five years later at the age of eleven.  Rowling went on to University, spent a year in Paris while she was a student and eventually marries a man from Portugal.  But, in 1995, that marriage fell through and she returned to Edinburgh only for her mother to die shortly after.  In the midst of two tragic events, the divorce and the death, Rowling took the skills she had learned in her Classics courses and set about to finish a book that she had started years before.

In 1990 on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross, she conceived the idea for the Harry Potters series.  She built up the outline for the series of seven books on odd pieces of papers.  In 1997, Bloomsbury Children’s Books published the first of the seven books.  For many, it is like a fairy tale and it is easy to see from all of the shops selling Harry Pottery memorabilia that the books continue to have a great following.  If you travel to Edinburgh, you can go on the Harry Potter tours.  But if you just want a great scone or shortbread and a pot of British tea, then step into the Elephant House Cafe.  One bit hint, this is a very popular bistro cafe amongst the locals as well and tables at the normal busy times of day can mean a lineup.

We then spent our time catching up on our lives for the past two decades sitting amongst the Titians at the National Gallery.  What a beautiful gallery.  It was Valesquez’s Old Woman Cooking Eggs that caught my attention after the colossal images by Gainsborough with fabrics you can reach out and touch – it sure feels that way.  The Museums in Scotland are free admission and those in Edinburgh are located within walking distance of one another.  If you stay in this part of the City, you never have to hire a taxi but you can simply walk from one venue to another with ease.

There are a number of ways to get to Edinburgh.  In fact, this trip taught me a lot.  If you live in Canada, you can fly via Halifax to Glasgow with WestJet Airlines.  You can also fly to Edinburgh via either London Gatwick or London Heathrow.  When I booked, Gatwick was the cheapest option.  Then you take the Thameslink to London San Pancreas International.  The return ticket is 21 GBP.  Today that is roughly $42 CDN.  It takes about 40 minutes.  In San Pancreas you can find some lovely food shops – much better in my opinion from those at King’s Cross.  Then you take the LNER train to Edinburgh.  Now here is also a big tip:  If your train is delayed by 30 minutes you will get some compensation.  If it is delayed by an hour you can get the entire cost of the ticket refunded.  My train was 78 minutes late in arriving.  Bingo!

Edinburgh is a very cultural city and there are festivals throughout the summer.  Most of the big manor houses or even Balmoral Castle allow for visitors.  They open April 1.  There are even cottages to let on the grounds of Balmoral Castle.

I am leaving for Arbroath tomorrow instead of today.  The snow is tapering off and melting so I have hope that the 8 degrees C is for real.